Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an apartment locator and a Realtor?

Main difference is a Realtor has access to the MLS which includes houses, condos, land and can help you buy or sell a home. Apartment locators ONLY specialize in apartment rentals and new construction homes. Although, an apartment locator can easily become a Realtor by paying dues to gain access to the MLS.

Is using an Apartment locator really free?

Yes. Apartment locators receive a commission when you lease a place and put their name down as the reference.

Why is the cost of living in Austin so expensive?

This is due to a growing population and a thriving tech industry. Austin is still more affordable that many other major US cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I just signed a 12 month lease but need to move due to unforeseen circumstances. What are my options?

You can either try to unofficially sublease the unit, do a lease takeover if landlord allows or give notice and pay the reletting fee, often 85% of 1 months rent.

What is the difference between a management company and a private owner?

When it comes to renting. Management companies are often used by property owners to run and maintain their rental properties and abide by strict guidelines from the owner. A private owner does everything themselves and is usually more willing to work with certain situations.

Why am I seeing cheaper rentals advertised on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist than the options an apartment locator gives me?

Mainly to get you to inquire about the listing or because prices aren’t being consistently updated. Most listings you see online are considered advertisements for the properties and are not giving you live pricing. Their goal is for you to call them so they can get you into a similar unit or upsell you a larger more expensive unit. This is not to be confused with “bait and switch”.

I just started a new job and don't have any pay stubs yet. Can I still rent an apartment?

Yes. Either bank statements or offer letter from your new job would work.

I am an independent contractor or get paid cash. How do I prove my income?

Either bank statements showing consistent deposits or a notarized letter from your employer. Or they may simply ask for a higher deposit.

What is the difference between allocated water bill and sub metered water bill?

Allocated water bill is when the water bill is split up between each building(s) depending on size floor plan and occupancy. Sub metered water bill is when everyone pays for their own water usage.

If a unit I want to rent already has washer/dryer included can I still bring my own?

Most likely not unless the property has somewhere to store them which they usually don’t.

What is a "notice to vacate"?

It’s when you give your official notice that you are moving out. It is usually either 30 or 60 days notice to the landlord.

How can I avoid pet fees and deposits?

Emotional support animals and service animals are exempt from any pet fees or deposits. You can register them either online or get a note from a physician. Landlords can still ask what service the animal provides you. But you are not immune from paying any unreasonable damages the service animal causes.

I have more than 3 pets. Can I still rent an apartment?

Technically yes. Service animals don’t count as pets but the majority of apartment communities have a limit of 2 pets maximum but some will accept 3 pets.

I'm not from the area and will be living on my own. How do I know what areas are safe or not?

Its mostly subjective but driving around the area at night, looking up sex offender registry for the location and talking to neighbors can give you a good idea. Due to fair housing and liability, most leasing agents or real estate agents won’t comment too much on safety. “Crime doesn’t have an address”.

How do I know if the person advertising a home for rent is legit or not?

Ask them for their license number or IABS form, google search their name, copy and paste the listing photos into Google, analyze their grammar and if the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Does a landlord have to disclose if there has been a death in the unit I'm renting?

No. Unless the death was caused by the condition of the building or unit. Only when selling a home are you required to disclose if someone was murdered at the property.

What is a stigmatized property?

When a home is believed to be haunted or is known that a murder or death has occurred inside the home or property.

How can I tell if a property is in a flood zone?

You can get an idea by locating nearby creeks or bodies of water. And by looking this information up on a flood map.

How can I tell the age of a water heater or AC unit?

Easiest ways are to find the manufacture date on the unit or look for the date in the serial number.

What is an estate sale?

Is when someone is selling all of their belongings inside the home like an oversized garage sale. This is usually due to death, illness or they are being moved to an assisted living facility.

Why is the directional facing of the home so important?

It is mainly all about how much direct sun light the home will get and what the natural light will be inside the home.

How do I check for bugs or rodents before signing a lease?

Look in sink drains, under the sinks, behind appliances and in dark moist places for roaches. Evidence like holes in the floors or walls and things like rat traps and roach traps are usually signs of active or previous infestations. Search reviews for multiple complaints about pests.

Is living on the 3rd floor really safer than the 1st floor?

Depending on the situation. If you are worried about home burglaries and floods then a 3rd floor may be more desirable. If you are worried about escaping during a fire or wanting to keep a close eye on your vehicle or work trailer then 1st floor may be more desirable.

What are the pros and cons of "Utilities included"?

Pros could be that you won’t have to set up utilities in your name or pay deposits to a utility provider when moving but cons could be that the amount extra you are paying on top of rent each month is more than if you were to set these utilities up yourself. this is because most people aren’t mindful of usage if they aren’t seeing the bill.

I really like a certain apartment complex but it horrible reviews. What do I do?

Look to see if the reviews are about a consistent topic. If 10 reviews in a row complain about how bad the parking is then parking is probably pretty bad. If each bad review seems isolated as in complaining about fees or office staff then living there may not be that bad.

What is a preferred employer discount?

It is usually and incentive like free admin fee or 5% off monthly rent given to tenants that work at certain companies like Oracle, Google, Hospitals, Schools or other large companies nearby.

My upstairs neighbors are extremely noisy. What can I do?

complain to the landlord or property management but sometimes nothing can be done about a noisy neighbor.

Do prices of apartments change everyday?

Yes. Pricing can change as other units get leased or demand changes for the area.

What is a "look and lease" special?

It is basically a move-in special, like 1 month free, that will only apply if you submit an application same day or within 48 hours of viewing the home.

Can I still rent an apartment if I have a felony?

Yes. depending on what type of felony and how old it is.

Are gated communities really safer?

Not necessarily. Anyone can still tailgate into the property but it does cut down on foot traffic and ease of access through the property.

Why do most listings I see online not give the name of the community or address?

Either for privacy reasons or they are an apartment locator/Realtor advertising the property so they only get paid a commission if they reefer you to the property.

Can I work with multiple agents at the same time?

Technically yes but unethical. If you have signed a buyers representation with your agent then you are pretty much committed to that agent. Otherwise they can sue another broker for a commission. If you are working with multiple apartment locators then you usually don’t sign a buyers representation.

What is a buyers representation agreement?

It is an agreement between you and your buyers agent that you will only go through them to purchase a home.

Can my agent share their commission with me?

Yes. If you are a principal in the transaction they can give you a “rebate” from their commission.

Is it ok for my roommate not to be on the lease?

Not necessarily. Everyone living in the home needs to be on the lease.

Do I really need to submit a poop sample from my dog to the management company I'm renting from?

Yes. Sort of. Some properties use a 3rd party to take your dogs poop sample and store the DNA in case you don’t clean up after them while walking them on property.

Is a mortgage actually cheaper than rent?

It can be. But this isn’t true in most cases. Mortgages are usually much higher than rent especially when you factor in maintenance and taxes. Plus getting approved for a mortgage is easier said than done.

My move out date is approaching but I need a few more days after the lease ends to finish moving. What do I do?

If you talk to your landlord or property manager they will usually allow a few more days to finish moving at the end of your lease for a pro rated rent amount per day.

Are application fees refundable if I get denied?

No. The majority of the time whether you are approved or denied the application fee is never refundable.

What is I get approved for an apartment but never move in?

It would most likely be treated as a broken lease if you signed a lease. If you let them know early enough then you would most likely just lose your deposit.

What if me and a roommate are renting an apartment with both of us on the lease and one of us moves out. Who is responsible for paying rent the rest of the lease?

You would still both be responsible for paying rent. If the one person can’t afford to pay the rent in full each month then that is especially problematic.

Can myself and my 5 kids rent a 1 bedroom apartment?

Technically no. Most apartments and cities have occupancy limits depending on the number of bedrooms.

How do I avoid scams when searching for rental property?

Never hand over money or deposit without seeing the place in person first. Use a trusted source or utilize a Realtor or apartment locator. Copy and paste the description or pictures into Google to see if they match any past, active or sold listings.

Who is responsible for pest control at a rental property?

In most occasions you pay a pest control fee to the landlord which is usually around $3 a month on top of rent. That intitles you do have pest control come by your property and spray for pests a certain number of times each month

Can I Airbnb the apartment I'm renting?

Yes. With prior permission from the owner or management company. Although the majority of owners and management companies do not allow it.

How do I get out of a lease without hurting my credit or rental history?

By giving proper notice and pay a reletting fee. Usually 85% of 1 months rent but can be as high as 200% of 1 months rent depending on the property.

Are realtors and apartment locators only showing me properties that pay them a commission?

Yes. Although the majority of apartments and rental homes do pay a commission. Usually if a community doesn’t pay a commission it is because they are always over 95% occupancy, government subsidized or a distressed property that may be behind on bills or other obligations.

What is the typical commission agents receive?

For apartments it averages 50%-100% of 1 months rent but can be as low as $100 flat fee up to 200% of 1 months rent. Rental homes is usually 35%-50% of 1 months rent and buyers agent commission is usually 3% of the sales price. In the end commissions are always negotiable.

My car was broken into at my apartment complex. Can I get out of my lease because of this?

No. Not just because of property crime such as car break-ins or theft.

Do I have to have renters insurance?

No. Although some communities and landlords can require you to have renters insurance in order to rent there.

I just moved out of my apartment. When do I get my deposit back?

Apartments have 30 days to return your deposit and provide you with a move out statement.

What is "market rent price"?

Market rent price is the price without any kind of concessions or discounts included. You usually have to income qualify at the market rent price.

What is "effective rent price"?

Effective rent price is the price after pro rated specials and discounts are applied.

How long does it take to be evicted?

Usually takes no more than 45 days after being served the eviction notice.

I gave my 60 day notice to vacate but later decided I want to renew the lease. What do I do?

Contact the property management and see if they have rented the unit out already. If not they may can rescind the notice to vacate and renew your lease but the renewal rate may be higher at that point.

Do I pay the HOA fees when renting a house?

Yes. Most of the time the renter will pay the home owner association fees when renting a home.

I'm renting an apartment. Can I pay the whole lease term upfront upon move in?

Usually management companies will not officially let you pay the whole lease term upfront before moving in. You can however deposit that amount into your online rent payment portal which will create a credit to your account automatically deducting your rent payment each month from that credit.

I am interested in an apartment and they are offering 1 month free. Can I break that up over the term of the lease?

Depends on how they offer the 1 month free. If it is given to you as a credit to the account then simply do the math and pay a little less each month starting on the first month until the credit is depleted. If it given to you up front for the first month then you have to self pro rate your rent meaning if you are living somewhere for 12 months but only paying for 11 months then your effective rent is cheaper than market rent. Pay the effective rent each month and it will even out by the 12th month. 12 months X $1,500 market rent= $18,000 for entire lease term without special 11 months X $1,500 market rent= $16,500/12 months= $1375 effective rent with special

Where can I find apartments qualifying criteria before I pay the application fees?

Either ask the property for a copy of it or it is a document that you sign before submitting your application online.

What is an admin fee?

It is basically a fee for filing paper work and lease generation.

What do apartments look for when checking my credit?

Mainly any kind of property debt, high debt to income ratio, credit card debt and credit score. There are apartment communities that won’t deny just for bad credit.

I can't afford rent anymore. What happens if I move out before my lease ends?

Given you aren’t evicted. You will owe that property a few months of rent plus any lease break fees. You can expect to pay regular move out costs plus damages. Any deposit you provided will go towards the end amount you owe.

What happens if I put the apartment in someone else's name but I will be the one living there?

If they find out, you could get evicted or at least make you apply and be added to the lease.

How do I get someone towed that's parked in my private parking spot?

First make sure you have you lease with your name to match ID with the reserved parking addendum. Call the right tow company that contracts with the property and have them come out and tow it. You can usually find the right tow company on signs posted around the property.

How do I know what I can afford when buying a home?

Talk to a lender. There is a lot of moving parts when it comes to knowing what you qualify for.

What is the difference between gross income and net income?

Gross income is your paycheck BEFORE any taxes or deductions are taken out of it. Net income is what is left of your paycheck AFTER taxes and deductions are taken out.

What do apartments look for when verifying income?

Either last 3 months pay stubs, bank statements averaging 3x’s the rent in the last 3 months, offer letter from your new employer or a notarized letter from your employer stating how much you make. You can also use a co-signer if needed who would need to prove 5x’s the rent in income.

I keep getting a previous tenants mail. What do I do?

Leave a note in the mail box with their mail letting the mail carrier know they no longer live there.

Do apartments have elevators?

If a building has more than 3 floors it will usually have an elevator per building codes.

Can I paint the walls in my apartment?

Most properties will let you as long as you pay for the paint and pay to have it painted back to the original color.

Why do I need a co-signer?

Usually this is because you make less than 3x’s the rent or have bad credit history. A co-signer will not help if you have a property debt or eviction.

Can I be in more than 1 lease at a time?

Technically yes.

Who is responsible for changing the AC filter in a rental?

Renter is responsible for changing them. Although most landlords will provide the AC filters for you plus install them as well if needed. If any damage is caused by not changing AC filter then the renter can be held liable.

Who is responsible for repairs while renting a house or apartment?

Landlord is responsible for majority of repairs unless it is caused by negligence of the renter. Items like AC, water heater, dishwasher, roof leaks or foundation are all landlords responsibility.

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